2 Corinthians 3

It appears that there may be some in the church questioning Paul’s qualifications (3:1). He appeals to their past experience with him (3:2). He and his companions brought the gospel to them, and the Spirit convicted their hearts so that they believed (3:3)! But, even though they brought the message, it was God working in and through them by the Spirit that enabled their ministry (3:4-5). The Spirit is primary, because it is the Spirit who gives life to both believer and minister (3:6). Paul states that the letter (law) kills, which reflects what he said in Romans. The law can help us to know what to do, but it can’t help us obey. We need the Spirit for that!

It’s not that the law is evil. The law is glorious (3:7-8)! It was the first revelation of God’s will for humanity. But the ministry of the Spirit is even more glorious, because the Spirit enables us to be righteous (3:9)! Paul uses an analogy at this point to show why many of the Jewish people don’t believe. Just as Moses put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t see the reflection of the glory of God (Exodus 34:33-35), so there is a veil that keeps the Jewish people from belief (3:13). Their trust in the law as a means of salvation keeps them from fully experiencing the glory of God (3:15). They can only see and experience that glory when they believe in Jesus (3:14)! And it’s the work and ministry of the Spirit that frees us and transforms us so that we can mature and be like our Lord (17-18).

Anyone struggling with the divinity of the Holy Spirit should read 3:17-18 very closely. “The Lord is the Spirit.” “Which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” God is one, but exits as three: Father, Son, and Spirit, with perfect and complete unity of purpose. Some liken the Trinity to water. Water is always water (H2O), but it can exist as solid (ice), liquid (water), or gas (steam). Yes, it’s an imperfect analogy, but some have found it helpful! As hard as the Trinity can be to understand, we see it revealed in Scripture, which is why it’s a part of all orthodox belief systems.

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